by: Pastor David Huffstutler
James 1:12–15 uses related words for “trial,” “tempted,” and “cannot be tempted with evil.” God can allow a trial (or put someone to the test) in order to purify and show the genuineness of faith (James 1:12; cf. 1 Peter 1:6–9). God cannot, however, be tempted or tempt another to sin (James 1:13). Temptation takes place in a sinner and can eventually lead to death. James 1:14–15 gives us a spiritual autopsy of a sinner and shows us how temptation can lead to death.
Temptation is when a sinner’s desire lures and entices him to sin. He is tempted with evil, and he possesses a personal desire for this evil (James 1:14).
The sinner moves from experiencing to welcoming a temptation, an act pictured as conception. The verb for “conceived” used elsewhere to describe capturing a person (Matthew 26:55) or a fish (Luke 5:9). The idea here seems to be that the sinner has caught hold of this desire in such a way that it now begins to grow within him. He does not reject but willingly fosters the desire to sin.
After its conception and growth within, the desire “gives birth to sin” (James 1:15). Once the sin is willingly desired enough, the sinner acts upon his desire and commits an act of sin.
Sin Grows Fully
Sin as an act might be pictured as sin in its infancy, and sin “fully grown” can be pictured as sin as a full-grown adult. The idea here is that sin has now become a habit and way of life.
When sin is a way of life, it characterizes the sinner and shows the lack of saving faith that propels a believer to remain steadfast under trial (cf. James 1:2–4, 12). The wages for a sinner’s sin is death, both spiritual and eternal (Romans 6:23).
Experiencing temptation is not necessarily sin in and of itself. Sin begins within when one welcomes and nurtures the temptation for evil. Thus conceived, this growing desire for evil eventually results in an outward act of sin. Once this act leads to another and another, eventually becoming a way of life, this person shows himself to be spiritually dead and headed for death eternal.
May the Lord help us all to run to Him when we are tempted to sin. As we flee temptation and endure, we will pass the test of choosing right over wrong and one day receive a crown of life. May our faith show itself through faithfulness to Him.
All quotes ESV. Articles by Pastor Huffstutler are at davidhuffstutler.com.